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Voyage to Kure: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

<< Expedition Diaries | About the Islands

French Frigate Shoals

Satellite photo of French Frigate Shoals

Hawaiian name: Mokupapapa (“low reef island”).

Named after two French frigate ships that narrowly averted running aground on the reef in 1786.

A pinnacle on the Shoals closely resembles a full-rigged sailing ship, especially in moonlight, and as such, has lured many vessels to a fateful doom.

Are the nesting location for over 90 percent of the threatened Hawaiian population of green sea turtles.

Plethoric small islets are home to the largest subpopulation in the world of endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

Surrounding coral reefs grow on top of an eroded volcano that has been submerged for millions of years.

Greatest coral diversity in the NWHI.

Runway on Tern Island that was built in 1942 as fuel stop for planes en route to Midway dramatically increased the size of the island.